What not to do: do NOT “phone it in”

Under the operating rules of the Iowa Senate, any legislative staff member caught voting for an actual member of the senate is to be dismissed (fired).  As you may know, members of the Iowa Senate and Iowa House have red and green buttons mounted on their desks.  When the legislator presses green, the electronic voting machine records that as a “yes” vote.  Punching the red button records a “no” vote. 

As Iowa Public Radio’s Joyce Russell reports, during  a recent vote on a non-controversial bill in the Iowa House, the Chief Clerk of the House saw a staff member taking a cellphone call from a  lawmaker, and then casting the vote at the lawmaker’s desk.   The Chief Clerk alerted the House Ethics Committee.   House members recently voted to add a sentence to the operating rules of the House, stating that only a member of the House can push the red and green buttons.  “In talking to some staff, and even some legislators, we decided it was important to make sure that everyone was aware that only the members are allowed to vote,” said Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell.

As for that vote which was improperly cast by a staff member, the outcome of the bill would not be changed by subtracting that one vote.  The name of the legislator who phoned-in his or her vote has not been disclosed.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.